We have updated our Privacy Notice, you can read the updated document here
Mods please check the Moderators Group for an important update on Mod tools. If you do not have access to the group, please PM Niamh. Thanks!

Civil Engineering - We need to talk about money

  • #2
    Registered Users Posts: 51 ✭✭ SteadyNed


    Folks,
    I’m 5 years working as a Civil/Geotechnical Engineer in a consultancy environment in Ireland – not yet chartered, but planning to be within 6 months.
    We need to open a discussion about the White Elephant in the Civil Engineering profession – money. Having worked for 5 years in the industry, I have a full appreciation of pay scales in the profession, and frankly, it’s terrible.

    We've all had discussions with friends who are solicitors, accountants etc, (careers which I would see as having similar entry requirements, attributes, demands and working hours) it becomes clear that pay comparisons are shocking. We’re talking about earning 30-50% less once you’ve exited the initial/graduate phases of employment, and the gap widens significantly with experience.

    So – what are the solutions? Are there any or is the profession simply doomed to poor pay? Pay levels for engineers outside the UK and Ireland are reasonable - is it a supply/demand issue on our shores?

    Changing professions would break my heart, but if I ever want to be a home owner, and make a comfortable life, it may be necessary.


«13456789

Comments

  • #2


    It's soul destroying alright. Mind you, we can give up our lives, work 70+ hours, become associates and make 60k if we want.

    To be honest I have no idea what the wage will be through my career though it seems the time is right for people to move company.

    EDIT: Some people to move company if they want to chase money that is. I'm not saying that's what I'm planning on doing. Re-reading my post I see it might come across that way


  • #2


    Well it doesn't seem to be getting any better. A few weeks back I saw a consultancy looking for a Civil/Struct intern preferably level 8 for 9 months. Now I'm just happy to have a job, to buy time for my great escape!


  • #2


    There is one major factor in the level of pay you receive. You.

    Pay rises arent just handed out. Why would they be?

    In the last 12 months I've gotten two rises. The first was a company wide one but I negotiated a few extra perks (car parking space closer to the office!). I'm also changing jobs in the new year that comes with a rise (but less perks).

    I used the EI salary survey and an independent recruitment company salary survey to bench mark each of my pay rises. I looked at what I brought to the table and what I could add and came up with a fair figure.

    I work with and have worked with many many people who are afraid to ask for raises. I was speaking to an MD of a company with a turn over of €8m. They were on their knee 2 years ago. 50% cuts all across the board over night. They started to turn a profit in the last 12 months. Modest but enough to restoring pay scales. He said those who asked got one. Those who demanded got nothing (some even got let go).


  • #2


    godtabh wrote: »
    There is one major factor in the level of pay you receive. You.

    Pay rises arent just handed out. Why would they be?

    In the last 12 months I've gotten two rises. The first was a company wide one but I negotiated a few extra perks (car parking space closer to the office!). I'm also changing jobs in the new year that comes with a rise (but less perks).

    I used the EI salary survey and an independent recruitment company salary survey to bench mark each of my pay rises. I looked at what I brought to the table and what I could add and came up with a fair figure.

    I work with and have worked with many many people who are afraid to ask for raises. I was speaking to an MD of a company with a turn over of €8m. They were on their knee 2 years ago. 50% cuts all across the board over night. They started to turn a profit in the last 12 months. Modest but enough to restoring pay scales. He said those who asked got one. Those who demanded got nothing (some even got let go).

    In one way, that's getting away from the point. Rises may or may not come (I've had 4 relatively substantial rises since I started as a grad, without having requested any) but it doesn't cover the fact that we will never reach a level which is comparable to those other professions which I mentioned above.

    As I said - it would break my heart to leave the profession (I love the job) but staring down the barrel of never being able to afford a mortgage is pretty grim.


  • #2


    SteadyNed wrote: »

    staring down the barrel of never being able to afford a mortgage is pretty grim.

    How much is that down to you? I do ok for myself as do most of my engineering friends.


  • #2


    Supply and demand.

    If you're (your profession) in demand your salary will be driven up.

    The bust in Ireland created a massive surplus in construction.


  • #2


    godtabh wrote: »
    How much is that down to you? I do ok for myself as do most of my engineering friends.

    Not an awful lot tbh - gather from vague discussions with colleagues and salaries of advertised positions that I'm paid slightly above the going rate at the minute.

    Just as an explicit comparison, I have solicitor/accountant friends of 5-7 years experience who report to be on 60k plus. This is the sort of money that an Associate/Director (say at least 15-20 years experience) could expect in our game!

    Agree with the supply/demand comment - too many people blinded by promised returns of the construction boom unfortunately!


  • #2


    The bust in Ireland created a massive surplus in construction.

    Spot on, too many engineers and enough high profile clients and projects. Developing is dead and there are only so many Local Authorities and funding authorities.


  • #2


    SteadyNed wrote: »
    Not an awful lot tbh - gather from vague discussions with colleagues and salaries of advertised positions that I'm paid slightly above the going rate at the minute.

    Just as an explicit comparison, I have solicitor/accountant friends of 5-7 years experience who report to be on 60k plus. This is the sort of money that an Associate/Director (say at least 15-20 years experience) could expect in our game!

    Agree with the supply/demand comment - too many people blinded by promised returns of the construction boom unfortunately!

    I'm not an associate but wouldn't to to far of €60k salary wise (add in perks and I'm over that line but taking a hit to join another company for experience). I'm Dublin based which also helps. I also am chartered and have two masters. I'm not saying you dont but you have to put the effort in to see the rewards.

    Also as stated supply and demand is also an issue that will turn in the engineers favor soon I think. There is a generational gap of people with 4-5 years experience. They all went to to Oz, Canada etc. This has resulted in a lot of companies lacking key experiences at engineer/senior engineer level. When building picks up there maybe some money to be made here.

    Also check out this

    http://steps.ie/StepsToEngineering/media/StepsToEngineering-medialibrary/Volunteers/Activities/EngineersIreland_SalarySurvey2012.pdf

    https://www.cpl.ie/Library/CPL/cpl.ie/Documents/Cpl-salary-guide-15.pdf


    Gives good ideas of actual benchmarked salaries.


  • #2


    I'd agree with a lot of what has been said in previous posts, the civil engineering sector has been decimated by the recession at the height of it I'd estimate 80% of my colleagues were laid off in Ireland they have emigrated to the usual places to find work, most of them probably won't come back.

    I've worked in the UK now since 2011 where the salaries have been better and the £/€ rate helps too. Becoming Chartered should be your priority. You have to work very hard in your early career & have a lot to learn to turn all that knowledge into practical solutions. Consider leaving Ireland to work abroad the experience can be very rewarding.

    Other things to factor into your package is training which is very important. It might be harder to get a bump in salary but may be easier to get the company to pay for a relevant training course, have you considered that. Aside from maintaining your CPD you can potentially make yourself more attractive to other companies.

    It is probably safe to say that engineering companies have being carrying financial losses over from the past few years and are now only starting to return back to profitability, keeping a grip on overheads is going to be a factor.

    Rent, certainly in Dublin is also out of kilter of where it should be compared to current salaries and won't change until housing supply is increased. Certainly going to your boss with I want more money to buy a house ain't gonna cut it! Fact of the matter too modern Ireland is changing and moving towards a more European situation where the norm will be to rent. I agree that 35-40% of disposable income on rent is a disgrace but that's the reality.


  • #2


    You will only move up the pay scales by moving or threatening to move (eg have an offer on the table and be willing to move), only then you will know your value if you are good you should be looking at a counter offer , if not then close the door on your way out!!

    In Civil Engineering Consultancy €70k+ but only after significant increases this year , graduated in 2000

    I personally think Engineers Ireland have alot to answer for in terms of representing the profession, they have sold us down the river. Financial, medical and legal professions expects a certain benchmark in terms of professional fees, where as in engineering, its a race to the bottom. The term Engineer and more importantly Chartered Status does not carry enough weight with regards to regulations and public perception.

    Pharmacy Graduates start on circa €50k whereas engineering graduates are on €25k? Whats that about?


  • #2


    In Civil Engineering Consultancy €70k+ but only after significant increases this year , graduated in 2000

    I personally think Engineers Ireland have alot to answer for in terms of representing the profession, they have sold us down the river. Financial, medical and legal professions expects a certain benchmark in terms of professional fees, where as in engineering, its a race to the bottom. The term Engineer and more importantly Chartered Status does not carry enough weight with regards to regulations and public perception.


    Spot on - getting more to the root of the problem. Why can't we as a profession demand a benchmark salary? Is it pride or fear stopping us?
    To be fair to Engineers Ireland, they can only ever model their actions off the ICE, who don't seem to be doing much with respect to salaries.

    Previous posts suggest that pay primarily down to the person - but as hard as you work (I work 60hrs+/week) and as quickly as you progress, fees in CivEng won't allow a salary anywhere close to Financial/Legal etc!

    The career may be rewarding at times, but being able to buy a decent car/house/holiday is reward in itself. A couple of senior colleagues have brought me to this way of thinking - they openly express regret for not changing careers when they had the chance.


  • #2



    Pharmacy Graduates start on circa €50k whereas engineering graduates are on €25k? Whats that about?

    How many Pharmacy grads vs engineering grads are there?


  • #2


    godtabh wrote: »
    How many Pharmacy grads vs engineering grads are there?

    If supply/demand is the simple reason for this, why are we churning out so many Engineering Grads??


  • #2


    SteadyNed wrote: »
    If supply/demand is the simple reason for this, why are we churning out so many Engineering Grads??

    There were about 60 civil engineering grads countrywide this year from what I'm told


  • #2


    SteadyNed wrote: »
    If supply/demand is the simple reason for this, why are we churning out so many Engineering Grads??

    People choose to do it. Some people want to work as an engineer. some people want to use it as a stepping stone into something different.


  • #2


    SteadyNed wrote: »
    If supply/demand is the simple reason for this, why are we churning out so many Engineering Grads??

    To be honest I think it all starts at leaving cert level where Engineering is in and around the 400 points mark for the best universities whereas Pharma/Law/Actuary are in the high 500s even though they are comparable in difficulty. Look at Engineering in the US for example - you need top grades to get into the best schools and you are earning one of the highest graduate salaries there is.

    It looks to me that any engineer who genuinely excels at what he does and is in demand as a result has long left this country. Far more opportunity abroad and the rewards are also far better. Those who remain and are making big money have moved into management where climbing the corporate ladder is far, far easier as you progress in your career.


  • #2


    Ok well what kind of money is an average civil eng. on?

    Chartered, 10 years exp. medium-large company.

    Surely well above the 50k mark, the way ye are talking it's not?!


  • #2


    To be honest I think it all starts at leaving cert level where Engineering is in and around the 400 points mark for the best universities whereas Pharma/Law/Actuary are in the high 500s even though they are comparable

    495 points the year I did the LC, with the majority of my class scoring above the 530 mark. not quite actuary/medicine level, but above/comparable with law or accountancy. Seems like a waste of talent tbh


  • #2


    440 the year I did it.

    First year had close to 200 people (two common years). About 120 graduated graduated in Civil.


  • #2


    lots of people leave civil engineering and drift into things like finance and insurance. How would one go about this? I'm 2 yrs working as a CE and although I like the work, I don't want to struggle in life.


  • #2


    It looks to me that any engineer who genuinely excels at what he does and is in demand as a result has long left this country.

    I wouldn't knock all us survivors so quickly, from what I remember it was the dead weight that got the boot first, followed by inexperienced graduates; more senior people who walked or took redundancy only did so as their CVs (built on their experience working on quality Irish projects) stood to them and allowed them to find new jobs - it wasn't a case of people being headhunted.


  • #2


    I personally think Engineers Ireland have alot to answer for in terms of representing the profession, they have sold us down the river. Financial, medical and legal professions expects a certain benchmark in terms of professional fees, where as in engineering, its a race to the bottom. The term Engineer and more importantly Chartered Status does not carry enough weight with regards to regulations and public perception.

    Pharmacy Graduates start on circa €50k whereas engineering graduates are on €25k? Whats that about?

    It supply and demand, and I certainly woudnt go blaming a professional association like EI. They arent a union, and employer, a negotiator. Sometimes they look most like a body whose mission is to sustain those employed by it.

    It its a race to the bottom, it is due to supply and demand. Demand for civil engineers, and what they are paid, is strongly linked to the boom and bust cycle of our construction industry (that in itself is another story, but those working in will enjoy the peaks and suffer the troughs).

    Getting het up about the precise us of the word engineer, is petty. It carries the weight it deserves. People will pay the market price for a service, not caring for what those providing it decide they should be called and its precise definition and status.
    Chartered Status (I balk at using the capital letters) is only of interest to civil engineers who try to build up their public profile or sense of self esteem and to use as a red herring to try to justify higher fees and protectionism. The other branches of engineering get on fine without having any or minority truck with it at all.
    Pharmacy graduates ? Its about supply and demand.


  • #2



    Pharmacy graduates ? Its about supply and demand.

    Pharmacy is 555 points in Trinity (2015). If you were to drop the points requirements (through offering additional courses) down to 450, would there be the same dearth of Pharmacy graduates? Likewise, if the points for Civil Engineering was to rise to 550, would we have the same glut of grads and subsequent supply/demand issues?

    Who or what dictates the number of college places on offer for these courses? (I simply don't understand..)
    Demand for civil engineers, and what they are paid, is strongly linked to the boom and bust cycle of our construction industry (that in itself is another story, but those working in will enjoy the peaks and suffer the troughs).

    True, demand and salaries will rise with an upturn in the economy, but even in the heady days of 2007, engineers salaries were nowhere near that of an accountant or solicitor.


  • #2


    SteadyNed wrote: »
    Pharmacy is 555 points in Trinity (2015). If you were to drop the points requirements (through offering additional courses) down to 450, would there be the same dearth of Pharmacy graduates? Likewise, if the points for Civil Engineering was to rise to 550, would we have the same glut of grads and subsequent supply/demand issues?

    Who or what dictates the number of college places on offer for these courses? (I simply don't understand..)



    True, demand and salaries will rise with an upturn in the economy, but even in the heady days of 2007, engineers salaries were nowhere near that of an accountant or solicitor.

    Points are determined by demand aren't they? the bigger the demand the higher the points I thought


  • #2


    godtabh wrote: »
    Points are determined by demand aren't they? the bigger the demand the higher the points I thought

    Yes, but is only half the story. They are also determined by supply of places.

    Which dont necessarily match the market demand for graduates. So imbalances in pay will result.


  • #2


    Yes, but is only half the story. They are also determined by supply of places.

    Which dont necessarily match the market demand for graduates. So imbalances in pay will result.

    Exactly - a quick check shows that there are three pharmacy courses on offer in ROI (Trinity, RCSI and UCC), all with points requirements in the 550-560 range. A similar check of engineering courses will show that there is a course in almost every 3rd level institution with points requirements which vary widely.

    What would happen to the market if the number of these offered courses were to halve?


  • #2


    Yes, but is only half the story. They are also determined by supply of places.

    Which dont necessarily match the market demand for graduates. So imbalances in pay will result.

    That's how supply and demand works. High/low points will always balance supply and demand. Thats what is meant to happen. Add places, points go down.

    Adding supply balances demand which is reflect in points.

    Engineering is now a commodity but I believe that is changing for a certain generation. Graduates with 4-6 years experience in the civil engineering sector are in very high demand. Had a meeting on Friday and was told that an average grad left for another job with 4 years experience and got €45k which is madness


  • #2


    Dunphus wrote: »
    There were about 60 civil engineering grads countrywide this year from what I'm told

    Sounds on the low end, considering DIT put out 10-15 bachelors of civil engineering last year, not even counting the level 7 graduates (many of whom went into the level 8 course). My estimate would be around 100-150, personally.

    Still though, what we are being told by both employers and colleges does not match what is being said on this board. We are hearing about a major shortfall in the number of engineering graduates in Ireland, yet the salaries for graduate civil engineers are absolutely pathetic.

    The highest graduate civil engineering salary I've heard of is about 27k +perks, and that's because its a multidisciplinary engineering role that's primarily aimed for mechanical and electrical engineers. I don't think I've heard a pure civil position that's cracked 25k, for myself or my friends. Pathetic.

    The result of this has been that many of us have ended up in finance, management, accounting, IT - and have ended up with significantly better numbers despite not having the "correct" degree.


Society & Culture